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The Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte Sept. 4-6, 2012. WFAE's comprehensive coverage of the event is found here.

Firebird Patrol

One of the most popular Uptown photo ops during the DNC will be the Firebird, the tall, mirrored glass sculpture standing outside the Bechtler Museum. 

That kind of publicity is priceless, but the museum knows the exposure could also attract vandals. And it has taken measures to try to prevent that.

Cathie Burns is the collections management assistant at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. She’s got her normal day-to-day tasks…

“Taking light levels and humidity levels in the galleries, pest management, temperature, things like that,” she says. 

But this week she has her eye on pests of a different kind. She’s working shifts guarding the museum’s iconic outdoor sculpture, the Firebird.

CB: “And if anything suspicious happens, I guess we’ll just approach the person and ask them to move elsewhere.

TL: “So, you’ve been given the authority to take action if anything is happening to the Firebird.”

CB: “Yes. To an extent. Just to politely ask people to relocate or something like that.” 

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Firebird, it’s that tall, mirror and glass mosaic sculpture with a pointy, sunbeam-shaped halo. Its legs are bowed out like an old cowboy, and they are shaped as if the thing is wearing shiny, sequined bellbottom pants.
It’s a magnet for newlyweds and smart phone photographers who are addicted to their Instagram feeds. It’s popular. 

And the Bechtler staff loves the attention the Firebird gets, but they also know this is a wildcard week with so many strangers in town. So, Burns joins most of the other employees keeping watch over it during regular business hours.

Now, she admits that if someone began assaulting the sculpture, there’s not a whole lot she could literally do besides call for help.

“I’m just sort of keeping my fingers crossed that nothing does happen, but if it does, I feel like people will be a little more intimidated by all the cops and the Secret Service than they would be with me and my Bechtler staff badge,” she says.